We had the good fortune of connecting with Anirudh Chauhan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anirudh, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
That’s a very good question. It’s good to read about the experience and take notes but time teaches us everything. As we mature, our priorities and responsibilities change, and even our daily energy levels change over time. As a young graduate entering the corporate world, we are always eager and dynamic and think less about our future but more about the present and our upcoming weekends and holidays. We are ready to work overtime, travel great distances for work, spend more time in transit, and eat whatever our mind wishes. We don’t realize how important work-life balance is as our body also allows us to handle an extreme amount of physical and mental pressure.

But as we get married or get into our thirties and we spent some time alone on the couch or just talk to ourselves before sleeping, we realize that money or a corporate job is not our first priority. We also have other things we need to take care of while trying to juggle our roles and responsibilities between our private and corporate life.

Almost all of what you read above has been my experience too. As a young graduate, entering the corporate world, I was much eager to learn and earn money. Living the best bachelor’s life, and spending on things I’ve always wished for. And if someone would have advised me to think about greater things in life and talk to me about work-life balance, I would have taken their advice with a grain of salt. But now that I’m in my thirties, in retrospect, I don’t regret that I was somewhat ignorant rather grateful that when the time was right, I learned what was important and especially how much important work-life balance is in order to start a family and build wealth.

And trust me, no job is worth more than your peace of mind. If a job is asking more for what you signed up for, either you need a raise with good benefits or you need to move out because you are worth more.

Lastly, work-life balance is something that can’t be taught. It is something that is gradually experienced over time, especially when we experience finer things in life outside our workspace and when our life becomes more about “us” and “we” and less about “I” and “me”.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Talking about my career, I’m grateful to have such interesting work, especially with all of the companies I have worked with. If you have seen the documentary “Social Dilemma” on Netflix, you would probably be aware of how companies use your data and make a virtual profile of yours in their system, and recommend ads, shopping items, videos, and songs that they think you would like. One can argue that it’s bad and the companies know “too much” about you as a consumer but trust me, this was never their intent. In the current world, one can limit how companies use their data or just confuse the machine learning models that the companies use by just using the app or website differently.

To build such complex software, I have been playing a major role by crunching data from the Internet, in my current job, from the vehicles and satellites to improve the current user experience and help pay artists royalties when their music is streamed on radio or online in SiriusXM or Pandora.

Something that sets me apart and I’m most proud of is about educating people on how to use the internet for our own benefit and not be consumed by it. Since I know the ins and out of the model that is in place in the current tech world I advocate for companies who use consume data in an ethical way to make the world a better place to live.

Getting here to where I am today, wasn’t easy. I started in Cyber Security, working on most of the work that was outsourced to India, but I wanted to learn more and see how these complex models are built. So I moved to the United States for higher studies and worked at IBM as an intern on their Watson Supercomputer to train it on Natural Language Processing, and this was my first real-world exposure to something that got me excited.

But getting a job in the US was not easy especially as an immigrant, back in 2017 when the new government assumed the office, everyone was unsure about laws around hiring an immigrant and no one was willing to hire. After months of struggle, someone was willing to put their money on me and give me an opportunity that would propel my career to new heights to which I am today and will forever be grateful.

Overcoming challenges and obstacles wasn’t easy. One thing that I always talked to myself about was, that an interview or a job role doesn’t define my knowledge or capabilities nor does it define me as a person. I may not be a good fit for a job doesn’t mean I’m not smart enough.

Now that I’m in a position where I conduct hiring interviews and lead teams, I always say to the candidates, “don’t be discouraged if an interview didn’t go well, take it as constructive feedback and understand that you were not hired for a reason. If you got lucky and were hired but you didn’t have the right skillset, trust me, your life will be more miserable once you start working and you will feel worthless. There is definitely a job somewhere where you will perfect fit, just keep working on yourself. and be on a lookout”

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been living in the Northern Virginia/ Washington DC metro area for quite a few years now and I’ve never run out of places to explore. This area has so much to offer, from National Parks to National Monuments, from Breweries to fun outdoor activities as well as beaches and cruises.

Now if a friend is visiting me for a week, I have a perfect itinerary prepared to show him/her everything that the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) has to offer, and here it goes:

Day 1: Starting off with some beautiful hikes in the Shenandoah National Park which is an hour away from where I live. This is a land bursting with cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, fields of wildflowers, and quiet wooded hollows.

Day 2: Taking the day from long walks and exploring local breweries/wineries like the Dirt Farm Brewery in Bluemont with exceptional views as well as visiting the historic town of Harpers Ferry where the Potomac River, Shenandoah rivers as well as the states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia meet.

Day 3: Starts off again with long walks, this time by walking on concrete, in Washington DC, touring the Tidal Basin, National Monument, the White House, the Capitol, as well as plenty of museums depending upon the interest and yes not missing out on the amazing food trucks that are lined up around the National Mall.

Day 4: It will be all about exploring, northern Virginia, starting off by visiting Great Falls which is a series of rapids and waterfalls on the Potomac River, and exploring the trails around it, followed by having a picnic by the falls or coming to the urban area to explore some amazing food and delicacies from around the world in Tyson’s Corner and ending our day with exploring the National Air and Space Museum close to the Dulles Airport.

Day 5: Starts with taking a metro to DC and exploring the areas and interesting places to visit in DC either by foot or scooter, starting by visiting the Crystal City Shops which is a compilation of contemporary restaurants, celebrated chefs, and cool cafes, all of which is underground, and then visiting the Van Gogh Washington DC Exhibit or the Artechouse DC which is an Immersive Experience that you would not want to miss and then walking up to DC’s very own Chinatown which is a small historic area east of Downtown Washington, D.C and exploring the local delicacies as well shopping for artifacts or souvenirs and finally ending the day at the Wharf to listen to some live music and have some of the best seafood in DC with an upbeat vibe along the beautiful waterfront.

Day 6: It will be all about going to the beach and chilling by the ocean. The closest beach to visit will be a 3-hour drive to Ocean City, Maryland to experience the ocean and all the fun activities associated with the beach, and trust me you would not be disappointed.

Day 7: It will be all about what my guest wishes to do, and there’s plenty of what I can suggest, from visiting the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia to exploring the National Harbour in Maryland or visiting Annapolis which is synonymous with the United States Naval Academy, to visiting Mount Vernon or just going for a lunch cruise along the Potomac River.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are actually three people who keep me humble and grounded and whose teachings I can relate to and resonate with. They are “Sadhguru”, “Gaur Gopal Das” Prabhu, and “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar”. If you don’t know then, google them, just watch a video of them about something you have always been curious about spiritually and I’m sure you will get an answer. Something about them is really unique, their ideologies and views about life are something that makes you really wonder actual the actual meaning of life and the reason we are on this Earth and what role are we playing, simply by just existing as a life in a human form.

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